RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes completed their preseason with a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals thanks to Jaccob Slavin’s shootout goal at PNC Arena on Friday.
Noah Hanifin led the Hurricanes with a goal and an assist while Lee Stempniak scored the Hurricanes’ other goal.
Starting goaltender Cam Ward made 22 saves to earn the win.
“Different skill level from this group than in years past,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“Six or seven guys are in the conversation. There are a lot of different options now. It’s nice to have a lot of different options that you have confidence in.”
During the opening period, Capitals’ netminder Braden Holtby made 13 saves of 29 on the night, and kept the Hurricanes off the board.
Even with Washington hovering around his net, Ward didn’t get as much work, but got some help from his post after Justin Williams’ snap shot rang off the right iron behind him and kept the game scoreless through the first intermission.
Stempniak scored his first goal of the preseason and put Carolina ahead 1-0 at the 5:39 mark of the second period.
With Carolina still leading to begin the third, Hanifin initiated a rush through the neutral zone and worked a give-and-go along the left boards with Joakim Nordstrom in the Capitals zone before circling behind Holtby’s net to set up the next goal.
After fanning on a shot attempt, Hanifin carried the puck and fed a pass to Jordan Staal at the right faceoff dot where the center put the puck towards the crease.
Stempniak was parked to Holtby’s right and was ready to redirect the puck into the net.
“That was an unbelievable goal by Stempniak, just tipping it out of the air,” Hanfin said.
“That was a great goal.”
With the Hurricanes in control of the game with a 2-0 lead, the pace of play continued to pick up and then came to a halt with 11:57 remaining.
Phil DiGiuseppe landed a shoulder-to-shoulder hit behind the Capitals net on Taylor Chorney that carried both players heavily into the boards.
While DiGiuseppe skated away following the check, Chorney took some time to move, appearing motionless for a few seconds.
Following the whistle to stop play, the defenseman eventually got up and skated off the ice on his own towards the Caps dressing room.
Play continued back and forth as both teams kept each goalie busy.
Sebastion Aho hit the post, and didn’t beat Holtby with 4:58 remaining while Zach Sanford’s backhand deke was denied by Ward who made a sliding left pad save on the play.
Carolina carried the 1-0 lead into the second intermission while being outshot 9-5 in the period.
While the Caps kept pressing during the first five minutes of the third, another shot off the right post kept defenseman Dmitry Orlov from tying it up.
A few minutes later, with Jay Beagle in the penalty box for hooking, Hanifin extended the Hurricanes lead to 2-0.
As Carolina worked the puck around the perimeter of the Washington penalty kill, Victor Rask threaded a cross-ice pass to Hanifin who wired a slap shot from the left faceoff dot and beat Holtby high with 14:20 remaining.
“We talked about gettin’ the shots off quick off the faceoff,” Hanifin said.
“Rask made an unbelievable pass through the seam, and I just tried to get it on net and it happened to go in…I pushed it out a little too far and skated a little long into the puck. It kinda made Holtby drop a little bit I think. I think he was expecting a shot a little quicker.”
Washington’s frustration began to show as Matt Niskanen bumped with DiGiuseppe and instigated a fight between the two.
Both traded blows with DiGiuseppe landing a decisive right cross that cut the Caps defenseman’s left cheek.
While Carolina earned another power play opportunity, that was soon negated by an interference penalty to Stempniak that carried over long enough to provide Washington with the man-advantage.
John Carlson drove home a slap shot past Ward on a pass from Evgeny Kuzetsov and cut the Hurricanes lead to 2-1 with nine minutes remaining.
Sanford took advantage of a misplay in the Hurricanes corner by Hanifin, and cut in sharply to Ward’s left before roofing the puck over the keeper’s right shoulder to even the score 2-2 with 6:38 to play.
Both teams competed hard as the pace of play remained high until the end of regulation.
While Ron Hainsey was stuffed by Holtby, Sanford couldn’t beat Ward on a play in close.
Both teams fought to a 2-2 draw and headed into overtime.
Holtby and Ward were amply tested, stopping four and three shots, respectively, and forced the shootout outcome.
Both gave up goals as Jeff Skinner and Teuvo Teravainen matched markers from Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky.
Ward then stopped an attempt from Lars Eller which was followed up by Williams hitting the crossbar while Holtby denied Rask the opportunity to be the difference maker.
That honor went to Slavin who successfully tucked the puck under the crossbar and gave Carolina the win.
“I have a couple of tricks in the bag,” Slavin said.
“I feel comfortable with that one. I wasn’t actually planning on doing it, but ended up throwing it there. I was just going down there with my head up, seeing what was open. What I wanted to do, he took away, so I went with something else.”
The win gave Carolina a final 4-2-1 record in the preseason.
Slavin spoke to the relevance of the win as the team gets ready to begin the regular season.
“It’s very important,” Slavin said.
“In the regular season that’d be two points and that’s all we wanted to do – get two points every night. It’s nice to do that.”
Notes: Carolina went 1-for-4 on the power play against Washington and 5-for-36 with the man-advantage in the preseason and 20-for-22 on the penalty kill…Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk didn’t return to the game in the third period after suffering a lower-body injury earlier on. It was a precautionary move…DiGiuseppe said that his fight with Niskanen was his first, in college, the AHL, or NHL. He cut the tip of his right first finger on Niskanen’s shield, and got a few stitches as a result. “My face is intact,” he said. “It’s better than having stitches (there).”